MIAMI — Starting over in the post season after a rocky regular season, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen travel to Woodward, Thursday, May 10, for the Region II Division I baseball tournament at Crystal Beach Park.
"We didn't play as well as we thought we would during this season," Golden Norse head coach Roger Ward said. "There were days when we thought we could beat anybody in the country and then there were days when we couldn't beat anybody."
Unfortunately, the Golden Norse lost the last four games of the regular season to finish 13-17 in the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference and 25-25 overall.
After dropping a 13-8 decision to Eastern State College on April 28, the Norsemen lost a three-game series to Seminole State College.
The Trojans (24-6 and 37-10) earned a 4-0 shutout Thursday, May 3, in a nine-inning game at Seminole.
Returning to Homa Thomas Field on Saturday, May 5, Seminole won 5-4 and 10-0 in seven innings to conclude the regular season.
"This was probably the most unique and difficult season that I've been though in my 25 years as a head coach," Ward said. "It wasn't because we didn't have talent. It was that we underperformed in so many ways at times.
"Then there were games where we played so well that as a coach you went 'wow, where did this team come from?'," Ward said. "We overestimated this team coming out of the fall."
NEO received the No. 4 seed for the double-elimination Region II Tournament scheduled for Thursday, May 10 through Sunday, May 13, in Woodward.
The Golden Norsemen face No. 3 seed Eastern State College at noon, Thursday in the tournament opener.
The Mountaineers finished 20-10 in the conference and 41-15 on the season.
Seminole earned the No. 2 seed and faces No. 6 seed Arkansas Baptist College (4-26, 5-37) at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Ranked No. 8 in the nation and the No. 1 seed, the Connors State Cowboys (24-6, 47-7) play No. 5 seed Rose State College (5-25, 8-31) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
An elimination game starts Friday's action at noon with the Seminole-Rose State loser facing the Connors-Rose State loser.
The NEO-Eastern winner plays the Connors-Rose State winner at 3:30 p.m. Friday in a second round game.
Depending on scenarios, one of three different brackets could be used for Saturday’s action.
"We told our team after the Seminole double-header that everybody is 0-0 now," Ward said. "Records don't matter now. All I know is that whoever loses two games goes home.
"It's not about the season any more," Ward said. "It's not about the successes or failures that any team had.
"What the regular season does is to reveal a lot of the inadequacies a team might have," Ward said. "It also shows a lot of strengths a team might have."
SSC 4, NEO 0
Unable to generate any consistency on offense, the Golden Norse dropped a nine-inning game to the Trojans in Seminole.
The Trojans built a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning of NEO starter Matthew Gaskins (4-6).
With one out, Marc Lebreaux singled. Sebastian Toro followed with an RBI double scoring Lebreaux.
Toro hit his first home run of the season with one out in the bottom of seventh inning for a 2-0 Trojan lead.
Back-to-back solo homers by DeShawn Lookout (9) and Ross Messina (2) in the bottom of the eighth inning closed out the scoring for Seminole.
A double by Colton Marion and a single by Troy Gagan were the only hits generated by NEO.
SCS 5, NEO 4
Despite the fact that sophomore right-hander Tanner Bramlage (5-4) struck out 11 batters in a complete-game effort, the Trojans scored twice in the top of the fourth inning for a come-from-behind win.
Gunner Halter lined a double scoring both Messina and Chase Bryan to erase a 4-3 Norse lead.
Halter began the game with his 15th home run of the year before Seminole added another run for a 2-0 lead.
Gagan singled, stole second and came around to score on a RBI double by Matthew Patton for a 2-1 NEO deficit through one inning.
After Seminole added a run in the top of the second inning for a 3-1 margin, the Golden Norse retaliated in the bottom of the inning.
With two outs, James Avery was hit by a pitch. Erasmo Mavarez walked before Gagan singled scoring Avery. A single by Marion scored Mavarez for a 3-3 tie.
NEO grabbed a brief lead in the bottom of the third inning. Carter Nelson walked and Tyler Silva doubled putting runners at second and third.
Calem Nutting grounded into a fielder's choice as Nelson scored creating a 4-3 Norse lead.
Gagan and Marion each had two hits to pace the Norse six-hit attack. Silva added a double and Patton a single.
SCS 10, NEO 0 (7 innings)
Nelson produced NEO's only hit in a shutout against the Trojans in Saturday's second game.
The Trojans scored five runs in the third inning, two in the fourth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.
A two-run homer by Halter (16) highlighted the five-run third by Seminole against NEO starter Jacob Schultz (0-6). Lebreaux added a two-run double.
Toro (2) added a solo home run in the seventh for Seminole.
"We were able to see how our guys handle pressure during this series," Ward said. "More importantly, we saw which pitchers were getting ready to go in and play."